US sees problems with Syrian opposition pact: Kerry
PARIS – Agence France-Presse
AP photoThe United States warned on Dec. 11 that some problems remain to be solved in a pact between Syrian opposition forces if U.N.-backed peace talks are to resume next week.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would talk with his Saudi counterpart about how to fix problems in the deal reached Dec. 10 by Syrian rebel groups meeting in Riyadh.
“There are some questions and obviously a couple of, in our judgement, kinks to be worked out,” he said.
“And I’m confident that they’re going to be worked out so I’ll be having conversations with them during the course of today.”
Asked whether a planned Dec. 18 international meeting on the Syria conflict would go ahead in New York, Kerry said: “We’ll have to see […] I have to hear what the answers are to some questions that we have today, then we’ll let you know.”
Kerry said he had spoken to Saudi Arabian deputy crown prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir since the deal was signed.
Speaking to reporters, he did not outline what his reservations with the deal were, but noted it was important to Washington that Russia was comfortable with the agreement.
Moscow is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but also, with Washington, a key sponsor of the U.N.-led effort to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria’s civil war.
Russia had said it would confirm whether next week’s planned meeting of the 17 nations of the International Syrian Support Group could go ahead after the rebel talks.
But the opposition groups, while agreeing on a joint negotiating team for future ceasefire talks, also demanded al-Assad step down immediately, a potential sticking point.
Meanwhile, Kerry will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 15 to discuss the Syrian crisis and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a State Department spokesperson said.
“They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL,” spokesperson Mark Toner said in Paris on Dec. 11.